Monday, March 21, 2011

The HOW's and WHY's of Getting Into HR

I was just asked recently to address a group of HR students. The discussion is to be centered around, "How to Get Into HR." So, I have been thinking a lot about that subject. My own journey into HR was not the typical HR career path. I started in sales, when over to procurement, spent sometime in accounts payable and receivable and then landed in payroll. And the rest is history!

As I think about the HOW, I can't help but to think about the WHY. For me, back in the late eighties, early nineties, HR was very interesting to me. In the small computer reseller I worked for, HR was involved in everything. From training to going on sales calls. So, the WHY for me was that I could use my business experience to bring a different perspective to HR. My next move was to a larger organization where HR was more siloed and had a more traditional HR approach. I HATED that. Fortunately, I was transferred to a smaller division where I reported to the CFO. To this day, I credit that reporting structure for my interest in metrics and analytics.

As a consultant today, the WHY is so much different. I love the strategic part of HR, and of course the analytics and metrics make my heart skip beats. But, it is also about making a difference and making sure this profession survives and receives its due respect.

But I digress....

Here are some of my initial thoughts on how recent graduates can get into HR:

1) Get involved in your local student Chapter of SHRM so you can network and be seen
2) Schedule some informational interviews with top HR individuals in your city
3) Get involved in social media and be SEEN and HEARD. Have a point of view, it will get noticed.
4) Consider spending some time in other functional areas of the business and THEN get into HR. (Business knowledge is in high demand for HR professionals)
5) Do an internship

Help a speaker out....what are your thoughts on the how's and why's of getting into HR?


Michael Haberman, SPHR said...

I suggest volunteering at the local SHRM chapter, especially when they have bigger events.

Unknown said...

That's a good one....thanks Mike!

Isabelle Frei said...

regarding your point 4: Still, it is being hold against you rather than being seen as an advantage if you come from the business side vs. have a classical HR career path.

Unknown said...


Thanks so much for reading and your feedback. I really think it depends on the company, and yes, there are many out there that do not see the value of having HR people that understand the business and then learn the HR technical pieces.

Have a great week-

Melany Gallant said...


I would add 'find a mentor' (maybe via some of the informational interviews you suggest) as another way recent graduates can progress in an HR career.

Unknown said...


Great suggestion, I agree a mentor would be a great way to transfer HR knowledge. Thanks for reading!


Ask The Tamster - Your Screening & HR Guru said...

Hi Cathy - I really enjoyed your article. I too, came into HR in a non-conventional way having spent time in many other corporate departments and I believe it gave me an advantage in understanding the overall corporate picture and how HR fits into it.

One thing I would stress is never stop reading. Keep up to date in the HR field - it is constantly changing. Gather knowledge from all the experts that have gone before and use that knowledge to add value when posting through social media. Having a digital presence that "ADDS VALUE" is going to get the attention of recruiters.
Let's face it, in this fast paced technological world, organizations need solutions and they need engaged HR employees who are pro-active and knowledgeable in their field.
In addition to social media, there are Linked In discussion groups, great blogs like yours and many other ways to add value and get noticed online.
I look forward to enjoying more of your articles.